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Michigan State vs. Alabama ATS Picks – Cotton Bowl Preview

2015 Cotton Bowl PicksKick-Off: Thursday, December 31st 2015 at 8:00pm ET
Venue: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
TV: ESPN (WatchESPN Live Stream)

The #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) and #3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) will battle it out in the Cotton Bowl on New Years Eve to determine which team will earn a spot in the 2016 BCS National Championship Game.

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MSU vs. Alabama point spread, over/under and money line odds

The bookies expect Alabama to win handily, but will they win by double-digits against a tough Spartans team? Public money will likely come in on the Crimson Tide later in the week, but MSU is seeing more action right now. About 65% of wagers have been on the Spartans ATS.

How the Crimson Tide and Spartans got to the Cotton Bowl

Alabama have a 6-1 record against ranked opponents this season, with the lone loss coming against Ole Miss (43-37) in September. Bama beat three opponents ranked in the top ten (Georgia, Texas A&M & LSU), plus made it past the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game (29-15) to earn a spot in the 2015 Cotton Bowl. The Spartans are 4-0 against ranked opponents and three of those wins were against teams in the top ten. MSU did have a bizarre loss to Nebraska (39-38) in November, but they beat OSU (17-14) later in the month. They also beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game (16-13) in another close game that was decided by a FG.

Stats pack

Both offenses have some firepower, but this match-up is likely to feature a lot of defense. Bama have the best RB in the nation in Derrick Henry, but MSU have the better QB in Connor Cook. Both defenses are among the best in the nation, but the Spartans have had some problems stopping the pass.

Michigan State at Alabama predictions and best bets

I’m not willing to bet against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in big games. The point spread has crept up to -10 points at most shops, but you’ll likely be able to get Bama -9.5 by kick-off. Mark Dantonio is a great coach as well, but Saban is 8-0 when playing against his former assistants. That includes a 49-7 win in the 2011 Capital One Bowl against MSU, which is the last time these two teams played H2H.

The key match-up will be between Henry and the Spartans run defense. Henry led the country in rushing yards (1986) and rushing TDs (23). He has dominated most teams, but the Spartans have only allowed two RBs to run for over 100 rushing yards against them. If Henry is held to under 100 yards on the ground, MSU will likely cover and potentially win SU, but my money is on Henry being able to pick up where he left off against Florida.

Jake Coker hasn’t been asked to do a lot, but he has completed 65.7% of his pass attempts, while throwing 17 TDs compared to 8 INTs. Cook has 24 passing TDs compared to just 5 INTs, but he’s only completing 56.9% of his pass attempts and that number isn’t likely to improve against an aggressive Bama secondary. Calvin Ridley is the leading WR on Bama and a player to watch out for, as he has big play potential on every snap.

The key for Michigan State will be to run the football effectively. MSU have three RBs who each have 100 carries and 475+ rushing yards this season. The RB committee will need to break the Crimson Tide front seven or else the Spartans are unlikely to sustain drives. OSU was able to defeat Bama last season by running the football, but the RBC isn’t going to be able to match the production of Ezekiel Elliott, which is why my money is on Alabama.

Last time these two teams met, they combined to score 56 points, but that was because Bama exploded for 49 points. That’s not going to happen this time around. Henry is going to be fed the rock and he’ll be able to make enough plays to help Bama cover against the point spread, but the game will stay under the total. MSU is going to have trouble scoring points again and the only way they keep this close is if they play good defense.

ScottThis article was written by Scott

Scott is one of the original degenerates working for MobileSportsBetting.com. Although he's most successful betting on NFL football and international soccer, he's also active in UFC and NHL hockey betting. Follow Scott on Twitter


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